Country act on stage Saturday in Bangor

Posted Nov. 20, 2008, at 5:20 p.m.

You know you’re welcome at the party when you’re asked to perform.

That’s the case these days for Jason Aldean.

The Georgia native unveiled “Country Girls,” the first single from his upcoming third album, at the Country Music Association Awards Nov. 12. Not a bad platform, performing in front of everybody who is anybody in country music.

“It was exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time,” said Aldean from a tour stop in Salem, Va. “It’s one thing to play a song that’s a hit; it’s another to play a song that nobody’s heard before. But it’s a really cool song, one that was different from anything else that would be played during the show. It went off really well, and we did what we went there to do. The song is really starting to blow up and we’re getting great feedback.”

Aldean, 30, will be coming to the Bangor Auditorium this Saturday as the co-headliner of the 2008 CMT on Tour, along with Lady Antebellum. A trio, “Lady A” is best-known for the singles “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” and “Lookin’ For a Good Time.” Eric Durrance is the opening act.

The Bangor date marks the end of the two-month tour, which Aldean faces with mixed emotions.

“It’s sad because you spend all this time with the other acts,” he explained. “It’s kind of like high school graduation, with everyone going their own way afterward. But with that being the last show of the year, I get to take a couple of months off.”

Aldean will spend the holidays at home with his wife, Jessica, and young daughters Keeley and Kendyl. Then he’ll begin to gear up for the release of his as-yet-unnamed third album in April 2009.

With hits such as “Hicktown,” “Why,” “Relentless” and “Johnny Cash,” Aldean gets better material to choose from now when he goes into the studio.

“It’s easier for me to find songs, for sure,” he admitted. “People are more willing to give us their songs. Also it’s easier for me to gauge what my fans are going to like. We know what our fan base is now.”

His last album, 2007’s “Relentless,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums charts and No. 4 on the Top 200 albums chart, which raises the bar for his new album. Still Aldean downplays the pressure.

“Our most successful songs are the ones that we just have fun with, and not over-think,” he said. “We’re not trying to make ‘Pet Sounds’ or ‘Magical Mystery Tour.’”

When did Aldean feel like he had arrived in country-music circles? He pointed to winning Top New Male Vocalist at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2005.

“It was our first nomination, and we went there not expecting anything,” he recalled. “We were just sitting there enjoying the show, and next thing I knew, we won it. There was a real feeling of being accepted into the country-music industry by our peers. It felt like we belonged.

Aldean might seem like an overnight sensation, but his new success represents his second time around in Nashville. Earlier record and publishing deals fell through, and he was close to going home to Georgia before Broken Bow signed him in 2005.

That experience gained Aldean some much-needed perspective.

“I was kind of young [the first time] and I don’t think mentally I was ready for all this stuff,” he said. “It’s made me appreciate it a lot more. It’s not something that comes around every day, so I’m enjoying it a lot more.”

A limited number of tickets remain for the Jason Aldean/Lady Antebellum show. To order, call the Bangor Auditorium box office at 990-4444 or Ticketmaster at 775-3334.

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